January 28, 2010
Days Are Six Days — Faculty Statement on Creation
We the faculty of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
wish to acknowledge publicly our view
on creation so that the churches and individuals supporting the
Seminary may know what to expect from
classroom instruction and faculty writing. In so doing, we note the
following as preliminaries: (1) the issue of creation has long
been considered a fundamental Christian belief, one that distinguishes
Christianity from other religions; (2) this particular doctrine
has been subject to prolonged attack since the mid-19th century, but
continues to be critical for orthodoxy; (3) although the
history of belief on this subject is clear, some fine and notable
theologians from our communions have held differing views on this
subject; and (4) that as a Seminary we are obligated not to
teach contrary to the Westminster Standards. The Westminster Standards
may be changed by the church courts, but, in our view, the seminaries
ought not to be teaching contrary to those Standards, so that when
there are changes they will
occur as a result of the church’s mature deliberation and not in a de
Thus, we offer our view on the subject of creation as a school
that serves a number of Reformed denominations,
especially the PCA and the OPC.
- We believe that God’s Word is not only inerrant, but that
also clear to the learned and unlearned alike; thus, we affirm that
when God reveals his mind—on creation or any other matter—he is quite
making his thoughts known in ordinary language that does not require
extraordinary hermeneutical maneuvers for interpretation.
we believe that when God revealed his creation as
ex nihilo and by the power of his word, and when he surrounded the six
creation with such phrases as “the first day . . . the nth day” and
and “morning”—all phrases which would have been understood in their
sense by Hebrews in the second millennium BC—that God himself intended
convey that the work of his creation spanned six ordinary days,
followed by a
seventh and non-continuous day which also spanned 24 hours like the
believe that an accurate study of OT texts does not support
the gap theory, the framework hypothesis, the analogical theory, or the
view. Indeed, we find the OT creation texts to be interpreted as normal
and no passage demands that Genesis 1-2 be re-engineered to yield other
interpretations. The long history of rabbinical commentary, the very
time by the Hebrew calendar, and orthodox Jewish thought so understands
texts to embrace only days of ordinary length.
NT church and Scriptures offered no revisions of this view,
and nowhere do those texts themselves advocate framework or day-age
certainly believe that if the wording of Genesis 1-2 required
modification away from the normal meaning of the Hebrew terms, God
indicate in the text itself, as well as in NT treatments of Genesis 1-2.
earliest post-canonical commentaries either advocated a
24-hour view of the days (e.g., Basil, Ambrose) or followed Augustine
somewhat platonic scheme. Augustine’s view, however, was that creation
instantaneously, and he nowhere enunciated a day-age view or a
the Protestant Reformation, only two views were
propagated: (1) the Augustinian view (followed by Anselm and John
(2) the literal 24-hour view (espoused by Aquinas, Lombard, and others).
magisterial Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Beza) adopted a
uniform view, that of 24 hours, and overtly repudiated the Augustinian
to the Westminster Assembly, the leading Puritans
Perkins) and others repudiated the Augustinian view and taught a
normal day view.
Westminster Assembly divines either felt no need to comment
on the length of days—so clearly was it established—or if they
uniformly (either explicitly or implicitly) adopted the 24 hour view.
60-80 divines normally attending sessions, at least 20 of the divines
comment in other published writings indicate that they only understood
creation days to be 24-hour days (or ordinary days), and none have been
who espoused a contrary view. Specifically, there were no divines who
a day-age view or a framework view. We continue to esteem them not only
confessional authors but also as faithful exegetes. We deny that
scientific theories are so certain as to compel us to reinterpret
the Westminster Assembly, the testimony of the
American Reformed tradition (e.g., J. Edwards) followed the tradition
Ussher/Perkins/Ames/The Westminster Divines on this question. No debate
this subject arises until after 1800, as the winds of various European
began to circulate.
the mid-nineteenth century, certain leading Presbyterians (C.
Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and later Shedd and Warfield) began to conform
exegesis to the ascendant science of the day. We believe that this was
strategic and hermeneutical mistake, as well as a departure from the
terms in the Westminster Standards.
southern Presbyterians (such as Thornwell, Dabney and
Girardeau) however, simultaneously resisted efforts to broaden the
this point, as is documented in the Woodrow trial and decisions.
in the twentieth century, numerous evangelicals — and some
seminaries — became overly concessive to a secular cosmology, departing
the historic view expressed in the Westminster
standards on this subject.
of us, at earlier times, were willing — due to love of the
brethren and respect for esteemed teachers — to declare that the
confessional language on this question was vague. We are no longer able
conscience to do so. Both the normal meaning of the confessional
the original intent as verified by other writings of the divines is now
abundantly clear, with no evidence to the contrary.
the secular confidence in earlier cosmologies is declining
in some areas.
we declare our view shares the exegesis of the Westminster
led them to affirm that God created all things “in the space of six
the word of his power. We also believe that this clear meaning of
language should be taught in our churches and pulpits, and that
it should be properly safeguarded.
we reject the following contemporary notions: (1)
that John 5:17 teaches a continuing seventh day of creation; (2) that
death entered the cosmos before the fall; (3) that ordinary providence
only way that God governed and sustained the creation during the six
creation; (4) that extraordinary literary sensitivities must be
pre-1800 audiences; and (5) that Scripture is unclear in its use of
and morning” attached to the days of creation.
admit that some Christians have been
too lax on this subject, and others have been too narrow. Hence, we
enunciate in this statement a moderate, historic, and biblical
should other fine men differ with us on this subject, we hereby
intent to remain faithful to the teaching of the Westminster Standards
other Reformed confessions of faith on this subject.
To God alone be glory.